Unknown photographer, Jay DeFeo working on early version of The Rose (known then as The White Rose). Inscribed "For Al and Lerine love Jay."
Jay DeFeo working on early version of The Rose (known then as The White Rose). Inscribed “For Al and Lerine love Jay.” at 2322 Fillmore Street, 1960-61

The Wall Street Journal, January 1, 2021
“Blooming Brilliance on a Grand Scale”
By Peter Plagens

Some artists are identified with a single work. With Leonardo da Vinci it’s the Mona Lisa, with Grant Wood it’s “American Gothic.” Which brings us to Jay DeFeo (1929-1989) and her strange, huge sculptural painting, “The Rose” (1958-66).

DeFeo was one of those lucky kids whose talent and enthusiasm for art was noticed early on by a high-school teacher; in her case it was Lena Emery in San Jose, Calif. The mentoring led to museum visits in San Francisco and, eventually, a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, followed by a grant for a trip to Europe and North Africa. In 1954 she married Wally Hedrick, one of the weirder of the many weird Bay Area artists, and set up shop in a large second-floor space on Fillmore Street in jazz- and beatnik-infused San Francisco. By 1958, DeFeo was ready to start a work that she seems to have known, in an inchoate way, would end up her masterpiece with a capital M.
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